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Home >> Tibet Travel Guide >> Tibet Aviation

Tibet Aviation

Tibet Aviation Flying over Tibet was deemed impossible in the past due to the high altitude. Today, it has become the fastest transport means of getting in and out of the region. Aviation services began in 1965 when a plane succeeded in flying to Lhasa from Chengdu in the Chinese hinterland. From then on, aviation business in Tibet boomed and has now enjoyed 40 years of safe flying. The aviation network centers on Lhasa, and there are regular flights between Lhasa and Katmandu in Nepal and other parts of China, such as Chengdu, Chongqing, Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Xi'an, Xining, Hong Kong, Zhongdian, and Bamda in Qamdo, 14 plateau routes with an average of some 80 flights per week. In 2005, Tibet handled 161,000 tons of cargo by air, an increase of 4.5 percent from the previous year, more than 75 per cent of it on the Chengdu-Lhasa route, and 944,700 passengers, an increase of 14.2 percent.

At present, aircraft used on Tibet flights are primarily the A340, A319 and the Boeing B757. During the peak time, they carry a daily average of 2,200 people. In 1998, Southwest Airlines purchased four-engine A340-300 jumbo planes, the largest ever adopted for western China.

Given the special conditions in Lhasa, planes flying in reach Lhasa mostly in the morning, while outward flights must leave by 2 or 3pm, well before sunset. In 2006, CAAC joined hand with the Boeing Co. of the United States to upgrade the RNP precision navigating system for flights to Tibet. This will help reduce possibilities for delay or flights being forced to turn back due to fierce weather, and make a reasonable adjustment with regard to flight movements, thereby increasing safety and flight efficiency.

Lhasa Gonggar Airport

Tibet Aviation Located in Gyazoling Township of Gonggar County, Shannan Prefecture, the airport lies at an elevation of 3,569.5 meters, and is 53 km from downtown Lhasa. To cope with the unique air currents on the plateau and for the sake of flight safety, the airport is equipped with 4,000 meter long runways, state-of-the-art communications system, power supply systems, weather broadcasting system and ground satellite communications system. In January 2004, the new airport apron covering an area of 10,000 square meters went into service, capable of accommodating 600 persons per hour at peak time. Flights now entering or leaving the airport include those from Lhasa to cities such as Beijing, Chengdu, Chongqing, Xi¡¯an, Xining, Guangzhou and Shanghai, as well as one from Lhasa to Katmandu, capital of Nepal. The airport has established links with the Bamda Airport in Qamdo in eastern Tibet.

Bamda Airport in Qamdo

Boasting the world¡¯ s highest elevation (4,334 meters) and longest runway (5,500 meters), the airport is 715 km from Lhasa Gonggar Airport. April 2005 marked the 10th anniversary of the airport¡¯s safe operation during which it handled 3,515 flights, delivering some 310,000 people and over 3,600 tons of goods. Its passenger transport increased from 7,663 in 1995 to some 48,000 in 2004; and its passengers and goods transport increased at an annual average rate of 25.1 percent.

Nyingchi Airport

Located in Nyingchi, this is the third airport for civilian use in Tibet. Construction of the airport, at an elevation of 2,954 meters, began in October 2004. Involving a total investment of 780 million Yuan, it is designed to accommodate B737-700, A319-100, DHCS-400 and DON328-300. The runway extends 3,000 meters and is 45 meters wide. Since the completion of the airport on July 12, 2006, it has seen successful flights. The newly opened Chengdu-Nyingchi route is the first choice of those who visit Tibet. In 2010, it is expected to handle 120,000 passengers a year.

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